In front of an early rising crowd of 4996 on a beautiful sunny Carolina morning with temperatures in the high 60s the Norfolk Tides met the Charlotte Knights at Knight’s Stadium in Rock Hill South Carolina Monday in the final game of a four game set. The Tides had dominated the first three games on outstanding pitching performances by Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Brad Bergeson as well as an 18 run attack that featured 8 home runs. However, on Monday the Tides were outslugged by the Knights who used the long ball effectively to prevent the Tides from completing a series sweep.
Tides starter Troy Patton (1-3 8.00) was hit hard giving up 7 runs on 10 hits including three home runs in 6.1 innings worked. Dayan Viciedo was a nemesis to Troy hitting two home runs and driving in two runs. Patton also gave up 2 doubles in the game before exciting in the top of the 7th inning. Troy was relieved by newly acquired Pedro Viola (0-0 10.80) who surrendered 2 runs on 2 hits and two walks pitching two-thirds of an inning. Tyler Flowers drove in the runs with a triple. Jim Miller (1-0 5.59) back in a closing role got the Knights out in the 8th surrendering a walk but no runs. Patton got the loss and Matt Zaleski (3-0 4.13) the win giving up 4 runs on 5 hits including two homers by Josh Bell. Former Tide Greg Aquino got the save for the Knights, his second of the year taking the Tides down in order in the top of the 9th to secure the win for the Knights.
The Knights had pulled out to a 9-4 lead at the top of the 7th but the Tides did not go quietly scoring three runs in the top of the eighth in a rally that unfortunately fell short. The Tides offense continued where it had left off Sunday afternoon. Josh Bell led the attack with 2 home runs with 3 RBIs in his biggest game of the season. Justin Turner, Scott Moore and Michael Aubrey all had doubles for the Tides with Moore getting two of the two baggers driving in a run.
The big story for the Tides was 3rd Baseman Josh Bell who in the last two games has hit 3 home runs and driven in 5 runs. Bell who came to the Tides after a year split between the Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League and Orioles AA Eastern League affiliate Bowie Baysox where he hit .295 with 20 home runs, 35 doubles and 5 triples. After a slow start Josh appears to be coming around under the tutelage of Tides Hitting Couch Richie Hebner and is now “Bell ringing” as you may using his bat to make some offensive music and by offensive I mean offensive if you are the Tides opponents.
Overall the Tides hit and run production in coming up. In the four games against the Knights the Tides scored 25 runs on 31 hits including 10 home runs and 7 doubles which means sport fans that if you are mathematically challenged that the Tides hit for extra bases 55% of the time in Charlotte. The Tides team batting average is still low at .232 but coming up and the slugging percentage has improved to .391. The Tides 18 home runs for the season have them tied for second in the International League in this category. Jeff Salazar leads the Tides in the hitting department with a .291 average with 4 home runs 3 doubles and 11 RBIs. On the mound the team ERA has improved to 4.31 and though the Tides still are among the lead leaders in runs and hits allowed many of these runs came in only a few games where the Tides gave up double digits in losses. Jake Arrieta leads the league in pitching at 2-0 with a 0.36 ERA allowing just one earned run in 25 innings pitched. The fact is that this means despite the loss and the Tides falling into a three way tie with Charlotte and Gwinnett for second in the International League South that things are beginning to look up for Tides in 2010.
Tonight the Tides are in suburban Atlanta to face the Gwinnett Braves. The Tides will start Brandon Erbe (0-3 7.98) who is still seeking his first win at the AAA level against Tim Gustafson (0-1 8.64) who gave up 3 runs on 5 hits in 6.1 innings work against the Tides on the 22nd of April. The weather could be problematic with temperatures in the high 50s, 15 mile an hour winds and a 50% chance of rain.
On the personnel side of the house the Orioles optioned relief pitcher Kam Mickolio back to Norfolk and purchased the contract of pitcher Alfredo Simon who has done yeoman’s work for the Tides as a starter and reliever over the first two weeks of the season. Up in Baltimore the Orioles go for their first home win of the season against the World Champion New York Yankees who are fresh off of their visit to the White House yesterday. The O’s will pitch Kevin Millwood against the Yankee’s Phil Hughes, more tomorrow.